USTA Eastern hosted its annual College Showcase Day at the Saw Mill Club in Mount Kisco, N.Y., bringing together high school-aged players from the Eastern Section and college coaches from across the country in order to ease the difficult process of college recruiting.
“The goal of College Showcase Day is to provide valuable information for students and their parents on the collegiate tennis recruitment process, while also giving college coaches from across the country the opportunity to further develop their teams,” said Kelsey Clark, USTA Eastern’s manager of public relations and communications. “This year’s College Showcase Day proved to be a success as approximately 80 high school students were able to learn from former Eastern players who now compete in college, gain important recruitment information and connect with college coaches. In addition, approximately 60 college coaches took the opportunity to explain their programs and speak with potential players.”
Recently retired ATP World Tour professional Eric Butorac once again spoke to the players and parents in a helpful seminar.
“The task for these kids to find the right college fit is a really daunting one, so what Julie [Bliss-Beal] has been able to do here at the Eastern Section should be used as a model across the country on how to pair up tennis players with college coaches,” said Butorac, who was also on hand to give a doubles clinic. “For a lot of these players who want to play college tennis, this is a great opportunity for them to meet so many coaches at one time. And for coaches to be able to see so many kids interested in playing college tennis at one time, as opposed to traveling around the country, it is beneficial.”
Butorac, who owns 18 career ATP doubles titles, shared his experiences from his tennis career, which began at Division I Ball State University before transferring to Gustavus Adolphus College.
“I hope it motivates them a little. But more so than that, I hope they understand that there are a lot of different paths to finding success in tennis,” Butorac said of his unique tennis journey. “Yes, I was able to make it on the tour and that’s great, but that’s not really what it was about. It’s about finding that right fit. I experienced multiple programs before finding my fit. And now, looking back, I can understand what I was going through at the time a little better, so I hope that I am able to help the kids here dive into that process.”
In addition to Butorac, Intercollegiate Tennis Association Membership Coordinator Mary Edman also spoke to the kids at the seminar. Former Eastern players Shanice Arthur and Lars Olson also took part in a Q&A session with the players to share their college recruiting experiences.
After 30 years, it’s so great to see that the College Showcase is still going strong. This year’s event included high school sophomores, and we opened up the networking with coaches to both juniors and seniors,” said Bliss-Beal, USTA Eastern’s senior director of competition. “Each time we run this event, my hope is that families walk away feeling more educated and confident about the recruiting process and that college coaches can showcase their programs and pick up some new recruits.”
Throughout the all-day event, the players played on various courts in both singles and doubles matches, as the college coaches in attendance made their rounds through the club. The coaches also set up tables with information regarding their program and institutions, and players and parents were able to speak directly with the coaches and ask questions.
“It’s great. It gives us a chance to pick up some late seniors, players who are still undecided, and they have a chance to look at some more colleges,” said Rob Burnley, head tennis coach at SUNY New Paltz. “And over my 20 years of coming to this event, the junior pool has gotten bigger and bigger, and they have added sophomores now as well. And so it gives us an opportunity to compete with some of the big private schools and people to talk to the players and parents about what we offer. So this is definitely an important event for me.”
Credit all photos to Brian Coleman